The Pot-O-Gold #4 - Live Free or Die Hard
Your weekly collection of the most thoughtful writing on the internet.
This piece by @galexybrane is probably the most thorough summary of the greatest wealth, freedom, and safety transfer that has happened from the middle class (or what’s left of it) to *BIG everything*and the people associated with it.
Today millions of Americans have fallen into poverty or are on the verge of destitution. Stimulus money has largely been used as a handout to corporations, and over 160,000 small businesses have closed. In March and April 30 million Americans filed for unemployment. Now temporary job losses are becoming permanent. 12 million unemployed people may see their benefits lapse even if Congress passes a new aid deal. Homelessness is spiking, 11.4 million households owe $70 billion in back rent and fees, and 40 million people are at risk of eviction. In some states, food bank lines stretch for miles, and 1 in 4 children are expected to experience food insecurity.
Meanwhile, Walmart and Target reported record sales. Amazon tripled its profits and Jeff Bezos made $70 billion. Billionaires have collectively made over $1 trillion since March. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft now make up 20% of the stock market’s total worth. The tech industry has achieved an unparalleled level of wealth and dominance. Data, which has been more valuable than oil since 2017, is expected to expand its economic footprint.
It’s a tour de force brimming with data, and though I may be a bit more hesitant than Alex to attribute it to some grand plan, the *lying eyes school* of economic analysis undoubtedly agrees with her conclusions: this is a monumental and humiliating theft of epic proportions. This needs to end.
The goal of lockdown enthusiasts in the “work from home” caste is to shift risk away from themselves and onto essential workers and the poor. Only 40% of the workforce can afford to stay home. 43% of US adults do not have adequate health insurance, and only 31% of low-paid workers have paid sick leave compared to 92% of high-paid workers. “Stay home” is the self-congratulatory mantra of professionals who believe that their virtuous behavior prevents them from contracting covid. In fact, income is the main determinant of covid mortality.
This piece in Revolver argues that increasing tech censorship in cahoots with the American state is eroding the moral authority of the US. You may balk at the idea that there was such a thing in the first place, but talking about “human rights”, “free speech” and all the trimmings of a modern democracy becomes impossible once everyone knows these values are just window dressing.
And so, on the one hand many international leaders seem to take issue with the fact that the deplatforming is being done by technically private companies rather than the government itself. The reality though is that, contrary to popular belief, Silicon Valley’s power does not represent some new and unprecedented threat to the power of the American state. Quite the contrary, Big Tech is essentially intertwined with and operates as an extension of the American state.
Put simply, European leaders (and others) interpreted the ruling class of America’s willingness to take the dramatic step of de-platforming the sitting President of the USA from its own digital communications infrastructure as a threat to their own ability to pursue “strategic autonomy” from the US Regime, whether it be on energy policy with Russia or economic policy with China. This is the appropriate framework in which to understand the international condemnation of the US Regime’s censorship crackdown on President Trump (and its own citizens).
American tech infrastructure has lost its shine now that swift, coordinated, private sector action against undesirables is de rigueur.
It suffices for our purposes here to note that Twitter’s action against the Chinese and Iranian governments are instances of the American state using Silicon Valley to advance its geopolitical objectives. The deplatforming of America’s own sitting President by America’s ruling class was a particularly aggressive move that could signal that the American state would lean more on Silicon Valley deplatforming as an instrument of power domestically and geopolitically — hence the international backlash mentioned above.
America’s intensified censorship regime will end up damaging its global prestige and power in another, still more profound way. That is, it has substantially undermined if not entirely evaporated America’s “moral authority.” The significance of this cannot be overstated. By saying that America has relinquished its moral authority is not to say that America has always operated morally from an objective point of view. Rather, it means America has shed the ability to even selectively or cynically claim the moral high ground for geopolitical purposes. The presumption of goodwill, which America routinely enjoyed during and after the Cold War as a champion of liberal democracy, has entirely evaporated
Bringing “democracy” and “human rights” to some far-flung hellhole doesn’t have the same ring to it once the regime has discredited itself.
The more the American Regime clamps down on its citizens domestically, the less ability it has to weaponize its alleged “moral high-ground” to advance its interests abroad. While such a decline in “moral authority” would be a problem for any regime, it is uniquely and perhaps even existentially so for the United States. More than any other country in history, the United States leans on its alleged moral superiority as an instrument of power. Terms like “human rights,” “equality,” “fair elections,” and “freedom of speech” are not simply ideals to aspire to. They are weapons often cynically deployed against target regimes that have resources America want. A country like China is more transparently transactional in its dealings with other nations — they will promise infrastructure in exchange for being able to mine for precious minerals in the Congo, without pretending the mining deal has something to do with “women’s rights” or “gay rights” and so forth.
Great piece from the Dark Mountain Project, on breadmaking and embodied knowledge.
Not only did I not know how to make jam, I didn’t really even know how to learn to make jam. It was this meta-knowledge that was missing. I lacked the skills to think about doing.
But, I persisted with the bread and the jam and the seedlings and I began to fill in that gap in my brain. I learned – quickly – to submit. Working with your hands is a constant submission to and conversation with your materials. It is a process of listening and looking, a subtle dance of noticing and making small changes until one day you realise you have learned the necessary steps. This is what practice – the act of doing something again and again until you get better at it – is. When you submit to a practice you are admitting you are not in charge. I learned to submit – feeling ridiculous – to dough and to jam, and it changed the way that I think. Materials, I found, are not as easily manipulated as ideas.
The next installment in Niccolo’s series of interviews, this esoteric fever dream featuring James Poulos is a great read if you want to experiment with the fine art of suddenly hallucinating while you’re having your morning coffee. Known to induce lucid dreaming, do not operate heavy machinery!
The situation is unsalvageable. Advice will not save us. Gurus, Pundits, Panjandrums, Aryans—none of these will save us. In the technical sense what will save us from the indefinite prolongation of the collapse of the civilization based on the ethic of imagination is digital technology itself, which disenchants all fantasy and obsolesces the industry of fantasy. The trouble is our pre-digital elite does not want to accept responsibility by relinquishing power, and instead is bent on swapping out their Lennonist ethic of imagination for a new religion where only certain kinds of fantasizing are to be consecrated into an established creed. Not only are we humans to be catechized into this creed but even more so the bots, who in turn will catechize us while those atop the social stack are freed up to pursue gnostic ultimates. What will replace our untenable situation, unless normal people’s agency is recovered, is something still worse. The bots must be catechized instead by those who understand the truth about given human life. Achieving this goal implies understanding one’s responsibility in terms of spiritual war.
This Week’s DISCOURSE
A few of my favorite things.
This was the week of the famed Time article, where a lady recounts the inspirational story of a cabal formed of tech, NGOs, and journalists fortifying democracy and aligning things just so for a Biden win.
The best takes on this:
TIME @TIMEThe secret history of the shadow campaign that saved the 2020 election https://t.co/xG3S60cP2L
This showdown between an anonymous data virtuoso and what is probably a PR intern trained in 5 talking points that include the magic words “plant-based.”
My joy here is intensified by the fact that the response was directed at a fairly abject ad where two pretty sickly looking teenagers are discussing the vile milk-drinking habits of their insufficiently oat-woke dads.
This Bumble profile attracted a bit of controversy, but I think it’s not a bad idea to be very straightforward with what you’re looking for.
I’ve also covered the subject of Defector Dating and the pitfalls of coordination in my last Subscriber-only post here.
Comments are welcome and thanks again for checking out my Substack.
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